“Courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
For many years of my life I have made the conscious choice to cower down, give in, and refute my own heart for others. For me that looked like a young man agreeing with something that I did not whole-heartedly believe in, and as a grown man with responsibilities, including a wife and children, it looked pretty much the same, except it has had a much greater impact.
Not only has this decision brought me tremendous grief, it has equally brought me to a place of grave disappointment, utter confusion, along with a heavy heart. A heavy heart that spent many late nights wondering why it could not stand up for itself in times when it meant the most. For years I would repeat the cycle of living in anguish for what I initially believed was for the greater good, only to recognize I had done it again. That is, placed someone or something else before myself. And unfortunately, that greater good was rarely manifested as an actual good for yours truly.
In some ways even the idea of considering ourselves rubs up against the selfish vs. giving strings of our personalities. I know, that was me and typically why I consistently gave into what I ultimately chalked up as just that, me simply being selfish or inconsiderate towards someone or something I should care more about. And so I would have a change of heart or talk myself into becoming congruent with ideas that others had, despite what I felt in my heart, or what I knew was right.
Have you ever been there? Men and women alike can find themselves here, although how it looks may differ. I can only speak for myself and will not attempt to explain how one should feel while in this place. I am only here to say it must become something that we consider if we consistently see ourselves on the short end of stick of life.
Perhaps another commonly used term for this is being a “people-pleaser”. Someone attempting to get along with others at any cost. The truly sad part about this is at it’s core, is we are not getting along with anyone because what we are portraying is a lie to ourselves and to them, so the actual falsehood is in stark contradiction to having peace and living in our truth. Even if our current truth changes next year, (or next month) while it remains our truth we must contend with it, or else it will slowly deteriorate the fabric of our peace of mind.
So what does it look like to live in courage versus comfort? For me it looks like several things.
1. I now take my time to give someone an answer. – In times past I would be quick to agree or disagree before really considering what the issues were. It was a pressure I solely placed on myself, but the sheer burden forced me to prematurely make a decision that was not well thought out, and certainly removed of good intentions and authentic realness.
2. I say “no” if I mean no. – In my line of business there is a statement we use that says, “ If you can’t say no, what does your yes really mean”. Think about that. For a great part of my life, I said yes just to go along with the flow of others. It brought me angst and restlessness, but it was how I chose to live, until I begin to see the pain I was inflicting upon myself.
3. I brought into equilibrium, the “the taking it personal button”. – For years my emotions were worn on my sleeves, and I projected that frame of mind on others, so since any disagreement with me hurt my feelings, I assumed it hurt others as well. Once I begin to understand that having a diversity of thought was not necessarily a bad thing or did not have to equate to anything personal, I was able to release myself from the emotional disarray that usually accompanied my thought process, and took me down a paralyzing rabbit hole I had a difficult time finding my way out of.
4. I am thoughtful and I value my own ideas. – It took me a considerable amount of time to understand this one, but one day I realized that not only am I okay in my current state, I am great. I have always been a thoughtful person and I take pride in being a deep thinker and a deep feeler, therefore I know when I give an opinion (whether it is popular, rejected or accepted) it comes from a meaningful place and is worthy of mentioning. So today that is what I do. I share it with joy and no longer worry about where it falls, how it is received or resonates with others. It is enough all by itself, as I am.
So at the end of the day, my comfort was not comfort at all. Nor was my so-called courage. It was quite the contrary and only served to perpetuate my internal struggle of living in fear. Most guys will never admit this, but we too consider what others think of us and how we are perceived. We tend to dress it up differently and use widely acceptable tactics to gloss over hard facts that are undeniable.
My choice today is to live in my truth. My choice today is to live with authentic courage, even if that means I must often challenge my own way of thinking and ultimately the way I live my life.